Monday, August 11, 2008

Zen | 6 | Patience

A jug fills drop by drop.


Every entrepreneur has a dream. And typically it is a big dream. Most entrepreneurs expect their dreams to become a reality in a short period of time because they work longer hours (with the idea that they will reach their destination is a shorter period of time). In fact, one could argue that many are deceived into becoming entrepreneurs because they believe this is how people "get rich quick" or "change the world overnight", but in reality being an entrepreneur is the exact opposite.

Before we discuss the importance of patience to a Zentrepreneur, lets dismiss some of the great myths of entrepreneurship.

Myth 1: Entrepreneurs must work 80+ hours a week to make a venture successful

I am not sure who started this trend, but for some reason it took off. Perhaps it was a distortion of the famous declaration - "Hard work always pays off". Either way, it is definitely one of the most damaging myths of entrepreneurship.

It seems logical - If I work twice as many hours, then I get twice as much stuff done. The fact is that working more hours does not lead to success, and more times than not, it can lead to failure. Be aware of what is important to the success of your venture and focus on the priorities of today. The daily routine should not take 12 hours a day (and if it does, you need to change your daily routine).

Myth 2: Business moves at the Speed of Light

Certainly, it seems like in this Information Age everything changes overnight. Industries like technology and entertainment seem to be evolving at expodential rates. But does this really effect how you should work?

Even though technology advances daily, it usually isn't adopted for years. It may seem like there is intense urgency for you to work harder and faster to keep up with competition, but in reality the pace is set by the market. In most markets, the customers are not moving at the speed of light, in fact many companies fail because they over-innovate and build products that are too far beyond the market adoption.

Myth 3: If we are not first to market, we will lose

One of the primary reasons I think entrepreneurs work day and night on their new ideas, is the goal of being "first to market". The ability to be first, gives them an advantage in building a brand and having no competition.

I admit that being first to market has advantages, but only when the company has the ability to effectively market their product on a large scale (which means they need to invest millions into marketing). Most entrepreneurs boot-strapping their new company don't have much money to run a national marketing campaign, so in reality being first to market doesn't really matter.

More importantly, if you look at any industry - competition is good, it helps advance markets and increase adoption of new products. So although one company may be first, does not mean they will dominate the market. A classic example of this is Google. Google entered the market last, but had a better product and better execution.

Now that we have dismissed some of the biggest myths that make entrepreneurs impatient, lets examine other reasons why patience is important.

Patience is not just about waiting - it is actively practicing Zentrepreneurship. When you are paitent, you are living in the now. By removing the anxiety and pressure of looking ahead to the future, and accepting all things are in flux is by definition being patient.

By focusing on your daily routine and executing those tasks you control - you are practicing patience. You are ignoring all those external factors that you have no control over, and thus are patient in waiting for those events to occur as they may.

"A jug fills drop by drop" says it perfectly. It is a great metaphor for multiple aspects to Zentrepreneurship.

A practical man may say "we can fill up the jug faster if we pour water using a hose". But we know, that what is important is focusing on each drop (as a step) toward our goal. The drop can represent our daily routine and the focus on NOW.

A practical man may say "if its a small jug, we can fill it up faster". Again, this interpretation goes against the practice of Zentrepreneurship. It abandons the concept of having Capacity for Experience. By shrinking the jug, you shrink your capacity for experience and therefore gain no knowledge.

By exercising Patience, you can focus on those tasks you can control. Ignore the perceived urgency and pressure that creates impatience.

Some people say success is being in the right place at the right time. I interpret this saying different from most people. If you are patient, then you can wait in the "right place" until the right time happens. It is not a cosmic crossroads where time and place suddenly connect, but in fact it is simply the exercise of patience.

If you are patient, and diligent in your daily routine - good things will happen.


A Zentrepreneur must be patient. While focusing on the NOW, a Zentrepreneur cannot afford the anxieties that lead to impatience. Patience allows you accept that all things are in Flux, and you need only to focus on your Daily Routine.

1 comment:

Abel said...

Thanks Rich for sharing your thoughts about the virtue of patience. I was looking for a book to read about this subject but after reading your words I feel I found what I needed to hear to make myself a more patient man. In my business if you are not patient you have a greater probability of failing so its important for me to continue improving. I've only read this post in your blog but I will continue reading, I'm sure the rest of your information will be as useful. Thanks again.